A bill that would limit female sports teams to biological women and girls cleared its final committee stop on Tuesday.
The House Education and Employment Committee OK’d the bill (HB 1475) with a 15-6 vote. Republican Rep. Kaylee Tuck of Lake Placid is the bill sponsor.
The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act would require transgender student-athletes to compete on teams aligned with their biological sex.
Notably, the bill prohibits transgender females from competing on female teams but does not bar transgender men from competing on a male team.
Tuck contends the legislation protects women and athletic competition, as men are at an athletic advantage compared to women.
“It’s important to remember this act is pro-women and pro-girls and acknowledges the biological differences between men and women,” Tuck said.
Under the bill, a health care provider would verify the student’s gender by completing a sports physical examination.
The examinations would assess a reproductive anatomy, genetic makeup and/or testosterone levels.
Democratic Rep. Kristen Arrington of Kissimmee filed multiple amendments that would’ve reshaped the proposal.
All six amendments failed including one that would’ve allowed a transgender girl from out-of-state to play in tournaments hosted in Florida.
“I feel here for our girls that are going to be humiliated when they are forced to go to a doctor and prove their identity,” Arrington said.
Critics further argue the amendment will negatively impact the state economy.
They point to the NCAA’s 2017 decision to boycott championship events in North Carolina.
The decision came in response to a state law requiring transgender individuals to use public restrooms aligned with their sex at birth.
North Carolina and the NCAA later reached an agreement, but not before costing the state roughly $3.76 billion.
Republicans including Rep. Chip LaMarca, meanwhile, argued against citing the NCAA as a “beacon of moral hope and equality.”
During debate, LaMarca and Chairman Chris Latvala both noted the disparity between men’s and women’s accommodations during the March Madness tournament.
“So, until the NCAA treats men and women equally, they frankly can shut up about what we do here,” Latvala said.
Tuck’s proposal, which moves next to the House floor, comes amid a cultural tug-of-war over transgender rights.
Roughly 25 other Republican-led states are sponsoring similar legislation, according to a staff analysis.
Last week, more than 500 student-athletes wrote to NCAA President Mark Emmert and the NCAA Board of Governors, calling on the organization to deny championship events with states that institute similar policies.
“The harm these bills will cause will be felt by generations of athletes to come,” the collective wrote. “Trans youth will not be able to play and excel at the sports they love, causing a ripple effect that will eventually remove an integral element of the diversity of college sport. Failure to speak up now will harm current and future athletes – perhaps irreparably.”